Many projects are successfully realized by applying a standardized project management approach. Project marketing is a central key to project success.
Often the sustainable success of a project is not achieved despite a successful project completion. After project completion, the acceptance of the project results is missing. The persons and organizational units concerned do not accept the result or, in the worst case, even boycott it.
- What went wrong here?
- What are the reasons for the criticism and the concerns of those affected?
The answer is very simple and clear: No adequate project marketing was used. Neither within the company, nor externally.
Table of contents
Project marketing begins with the project start
Project marketing is a central key to project success. Many projects are successfully realized by applying a broad portfolio of project management methods and a standardized project management approach. However, after the project is completed, there is a lack of acceptance for the project results.
The causal research of many known cases shows that the problems were caused in the initial phase of the project.
- Information about the goals and contents of the project was not communicated widely enough.
- The opinion leaders and affected employees were not brought on board early enough.
- There was often a lack of a strategy to reconcile the demands from the project environment (the stakeholders) with the interests of the project.
Project marketing plays a central role especially in projects where rejection is to be expected or which entail far-reaching changes in the structures or processes of a company.
Goals of project marketing
- Active shaping of stakeholder relations (project environment)
- Create understanding and acceptance for the project goals and the project procedure
- Securing support from key groups in the environment
- Avoidance and early defusing of tensions between project and environment
- Shaping and promoting information and communication
- Stakeholder identification with the project
The following target groups can be affected by project marketing:
The project customers should have a positive attitude towards the project and provide all project-relevant information.
The project team should be sympathetic to the project and willing to contribute to its success.
The management in the company should provide the optimal resources for the project, be supportive.
Environment of the company
The company environment should show appreciation for the project and its team and identify with the goals.
Public / Media
The public such as stakeholders, future users, media/press etc. should be regularly informed about the progress of the project.
Sell your project results right!
Environment groups of the project
The biggest challenge in project marketing is and remains the “handling” of the stakeholders, i.e. those groups of the environment that have an interest in the project or are affected by the project in some way.
It is not uncommon for the interests of stakeholders to conflict with the project goals to be realized. The more the goals and interests of the stakeholders are influenced by the project, the more they will react to the project and try to influence it in a way that is beneficial for them. In the best case this can be very beneficial for the project, but in the worst case it can also lead to a project crisis.
The Stakeholder Analysis
A proven tool for the early detection of internal and external influences (which can promote or hinder the project) is undoubtedly the stakeholder analysis. By means of this, the direct and indirect “influencers” of the project as well as their strategic and operational importance for the project can be identified at an early stage.
The following is an overview of how to proceed when creating the stakeholder analysis. A detailed description can be found in the method “Environment Analysis – Stakehoder Analysis”.
Identify potential stakeholder influencing factors
Each stakeholder has individual interests that influence his or her actions. They also pursue overt or covert goals. The importance of identifying the respective stakeholders in the environment of a project is particularly high and should never be done by the project manager alone. Here the opinion of the entire project team is required. A structuring or clustering can optimally support the creative process:
- organizational-social influencing factors
- Factual and content-related influencing factors
- internal influencing factors
- external factors of influence
Gain, relate, analyze and evaluate information
By observing and generating information, stakeholders’ courses of action can be derived. The more the interests of the respective stakeholders are known, the better they can be assessed and targeted. Important indicators and evaluation criteria for systematic analysis and assessment can be:
- Atmosphere and mood
- Significance and power
- Expectations and fears
- Type of influence
- Effects and consequences
Plan and implement measures
After conducting the stakeholder analysis, an evaluated list of the identified stakeholders is available. Based on this, a marketing and communication strategy can be developed. It is determined which measures can be used to reach the identified stakeholders in the best possible way.
Persons outside the project organization (e.g. managers with high reputation and power potential) can also be involved in the implementation of the measures.
Stakeholder analysis is not a one time task
The stakeholder analysis should be carried out at different points in time during the duration of the project, as the stakeholders have different levels of importance for the success of the project at different times and the relationships change. The project client must take a leading role in the implementation of defined measures.
TIP: The stakeholder analysis should be regularly reflected and adapted by the project team.
The most important marketing tool for implementing project marketing is the project team members themselves. They have to be aware that they carry out project marketing consciously and unconsciously at all times through all their actions.
Using the project information available after the project planning (project order, project roadmap, schedule and milestone plan, work breakdown structure, project organization, etc.), the project can be explained to outsiders. This information should be of good quality in order to enable optimal identification with the project.
A separate information brochure about the project only makes sense for complex projects with a long duration and many different target groups. It is important to ensure that the project brochure is published regularly. This is the only way to create a feeling of continuity. Possible contents of an information brochure are:
- Trigger of the project/problem
- Goals to be achieved with the project
- Presentation of the project team
- Progress and major changes in the project
Internal company newspaper
After a successfully completed project, the publication of the project results in an internal company newspaper is an option. In this way, the services rendered can be made accessible to a broad public.
The intranet is particularly suitable for project marketing. On this platform, everyone can inform themselves individually about the status quo in the project. It is important that the information is constantly updated.
Other possible measures for project marketing (examples)
- Project Events
- Employee information events
- Give-aways (with project logo)
- Press Conferences
- Presentation Roadshows
Responsibility for project marketing
The responsibility for adequate project marketing always lies with the project manager!
Project marketing can be carried out by the project management itself or assigned to the project team members for processing in the form of one or more work packages in the work breakdown structure. In the case of large projects or programs, there is usually a specially defined project role and one person (sometimes several persons) who is responsible for the topic. The coordination with the project manager must of course be done continuously.
Product-related marketing, i.e. marketing related to the product to be created in the project, is not a part of project marketing, but content-related work in the project.
Tips and tricks from the field
- Project marketing activities can be planned and executed throughout the entire project.
- The project client and steering committee can and should be involved in project marketing activities.
- “Copying” from advertising professionals is allowed (adopting ideas from advertising campaigns).
- No fear of “unusual” measures.
- Use existing communication media and communication points in the company (company newspaper, intranet, glass showcase, etc.).
- For large projects, include project marketing activities in the work breakdown structure (own work packages).
- The budget for project marketing must also be planned.
We recommend the following articles for further reading:
- Work breakdown structure – 6 steps
- Work package
- Milestone Plan
- Time scheduling – Gantt chart
- Project order
- Project Client – role and tasks
- Project controlling – effective project monitoring
- Project reporting – meaningful project reports
- Social competence – a must-have for project managers?
- 9 Stages of Conflict Escalation according to Friedrich Glasl
- 4 Sides Model of Communication